Religion news 4 August 2022

Image credit: @_mikeroyal

Bishops commit to tackle ‘absolute emergency’ of climate change

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called for the UK to reverse the spending cut on international development, which reduced from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent of GDP two years ago. Speaking at the launch of a global Anglican environment initiative, he warned that climate change was an absolute emergency for billions of people and said the reversal in aid spending would target poorer countries to fund technology for sustainable energy. He agreed that more could be done to disinvest from fossil fuels. As a former oil executive, he said energy companies had the technological skills, the imagination, and the financial capital to change the world.

Anglican Communion Forest initiative across the world

Bishops from 165 countries agreed to take part in the Anglican Communion Forest initiative, planting trees and regenerating local eco systems. It was the focus of day eight of the Lambeth Conference, when all 650 bishops and spouses travelled to Lambeth Palace in London for a tree planting ceremony. But the Palace gardens were so dry after an unusual period of high temperatures and no rainfall, that the ceremony turned into a symbolic blessing of a tree in a pot, to be planted out at a later date.  

Climate change devastates diocese with irreversible floods

Bishop Zechariah Manyok Biar, serves the church in Wanglei, South Sudan, where the majority of his diocese has been under water since 2020, a consequence of climate change. In an interview with the Religion Media Centre, he said the crisis had displaced around 90 per cent of the population, with many forced into refugee camps in nearby areas. He told Leo Devine his remarkable story, from life as a child soldier to consecration as an Anglican bishop. Read the full interview here

Queen welcomes bishops’ focus on the environment

The Queen sent a message of warm greetings to the Conference,  saying she was interested to learn that the focus of the event in Lambeth Palace was the environment, “a cause close to the heart of my late husband, and carried on by The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge”. She also spoke of the Anglican Communion’s ongoing commitment towards Christian unity, which she said was even more important today, a period of immense challenge. “With many of you serving in places of suffering, conflict and trauma, it is of comfort to me that you do so in the strength of God”.

Another life support deadline in the tragic case of Archie Battersbee

The mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, who has been in a coma since April,  has said the legal battle to postpone the withdrawal of his life support system was at “the end”. The BBC reports that the European Court of Human Rights, which heard he latest legal challenge, decided not to interfere in the Supreme Court’s decision that it was not in Archie’s best interests to continue with life support. The family say they would like to transfer Archie to a hospice and Barts Health NHS Trust have told them life support will be withdrawn at 1100 today (Thursday) unless the application for a hospice place is received by 0900. The legal action which has involved multiple  court hearings has been supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

Lufthansa to appoint senior manager to tackle antisemitism

The German airline Lufthansa is reportedly setting up a senior management position to tackle antisemitism and discrimination after more than one hundred Hasidic Jewish passengers were barred from a flight in May. The group was on its way from New York to Budapest on an annual pilgrimage to commemorate a Hasidic rabbi, but it is claimed they were removed from the flight in a tense atmosphere after a dispute over the wearing of masks. The Jewish Telegraph Agency says it has seen a letter from Jens Ritter,  Lufthansa’s CEO, to the  Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which promised that Lufthansa would establish a senior management role for the prevention of discrimination and antisemitism, introduce staff training around antisemitism and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. 

Islamophobia “rooted in racism” definition  adopted by Edinburgh University

Edinburgh University has adopted the working definition of Islamophobia developed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, which says that “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”  The University explains that the definition recognises that Muslims are subject to a system of discrimination, control, and exclusion, not just religious hatred and abuse.  The definition has been criticised for potentially challenging free speech. The Conservative party has rejected the definition

Turbans of fifty Sikh asylum seekers confiscated on Mexican border

American authorities are investigating reports that the turbans of almost 50 Sikh asylum seekers were confiscated after they were detained at the border with Mexico. Latest figures show 13,000 Indian citizens have been held by border control guards since October last year. The BBC quotes the American Civil Liberties Union saying that the turban confiscations blatantly violate federal law and were “ongoing, serious religious-freedom violations”.


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